26 January 2011

Rabett on History of Radiation

No surprise to you that I'm interested in the history of science and of knowledge, but perhaps a little surprising that I'm not the only one.  Eli Rabett has recently taken up the history of our knowledge on atmospheric infrared radiation.

http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/01/required-reading.html  Ångström observing infrared radiation from the atmosphere

http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/01/angstrom-effect.html  Arguing for 'Ångström effect' as the name rather than greenhouse effect

but then joining many of the rest of us in 'Callendar effect' in http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/01/well-damn-it-all-its-callendar-effect.html

http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/01/fourier-and-greenhouse.html  More about Fourier and the term 'greenhouse effect'

I'll also take this chance to recommend The Callendar Effect as being a readable introduction both to the biography of the engineer/scientist who did the work, and to the science that he did on carbon dioxide as an important driver of climate change.  I also have the complete papers, one of which and its response have some interesting, to me at least, illumination regarding the difference between being skeptical and being in denial.

24 January 2011

Whiteboard on the end of global warming

The Whiteboard also has a series (now looks to be finished) on whether global warming has 'stopped'.  That's what prompted the series I linked to last week.  The question is pursued statistically, following the lead of Tamino at Open Mind.  The brief summary of the series is 'no'.  But it is well worth looking in to the series for the how and why we can say this, and how strongly we can say it.

Did Global Warming Stop After 1998?
Did Global Warming Stop After 2000?
Did Global Warming Stop in 1940?
Did Global Warming Stop After 2007?

For looking at the converse, global cooling:
Did Global Cooling Stop in 1970?

These are more mathematical takes than my old What cooling trend?  They come to the same conclusion, so those who'd like more math behind their conclusions can get it.  Since I did that post over a year ago, it's probably time for an update.  One of these days ...

21 January 2011

Wrestling with data

I'll suggest those who haven't been, join me in keeping an eye on a series of posts that Ron Broberg is doing over at The Whiteboard.  As befits a whiteboard, he's showing a lot of the details that get cleaned out of most final publications, even on blogs.  The topic at hand is looking at the temperature records since 1880 and testing ideas on fitting curves to the data.  The series is now to #9 and it's apparent that there will be several more:

http://rhinohide.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/lines-sines-and-curve-fitting-1-oh-my/ (Starts out more on the issue of testing ideas on what we can conclude about temperature trends)
http://rhinohide.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/lines-sines-and-curve-fitting-2-r/ (try fitting the sine and then a line)
http://rhinohide.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/lines-sines-and-curve-fitting-3-double-down/ (Try fitting 2 sine waves)
http://rhinohide.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/lines-sines-and-curve-fittings-4-walk-and-chew-gum/ (Simultaneous line and sine fit.)
http://rhinohide.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/lines-sines-and-curve-fitting-5-a-growth/ (Trying an exponential curve)

http://rhinohide.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/lines-sines-and-curve-fitting-7-normal/  (Testing Normality 1)
http://rhinohide.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/lines-sines-and-curve-fitting-8-dagostino/ (Testing Normality 2)

A sine is a standard oscillation.  It would be a pure tone (rather flute-like) in music.  For a bit more about oscillations and data series, and the language of time series analysis, take a look at my Introduction to Time Series Analysis.

20 January 2011

Help save data

You've noticed by now the frequent pleas from people studying climate for more data, particularly from the past; here's your chance to help: Data Rescue at Home is working to retrieve hand-written climate records to make them useful for modern science.  The catch being exactly the fact that they are hand-written.  It is best to have a person looking at the writing to decide whether that squiggle is a 9 or 7 (to name one that confuses others who try to read my writing).  You can be that person.

19 January 2011


A couple of people have guessed where my 'penguindreams' id comes from, but there's a little more to it.  The obvious part is the collection of Bloom County cartoons which were collected as Penguin Dreams and Stranger Things.  There can be strange things here, so it seemed appropriate.  The penguin part has less to do with Opus, and more to do with a platypus.

The platypus is itself a story.  When I was younger (not that I'm not currently young, but back then I was less practiced at it), my sisters each had an animal they collected.  Somehow it was deemed that I should also have an animal that I should collect.  I didn't want to do so, so I spent some time trying to think up the most unlikely animal possible.  Platypus was what I finally hit on.  That served me well.  No platypi found their way to me until I was well in to college, when my grandmother had found a pattern and made one.

I was safe again until I reached graduate school, when I started working on the Antarctic.  Immediately it was decided that penguins were now my animal.  So I've got quite a few penguins, of one sort and another.  They did give my (now) wife pause back when we were dating and she saw the penguin collection.  Fortunately she believed this story.  And I've grown to like the penguins.

18 January 2011

Was Easterbrook talking science?

A friend suggested that I take up this article by Don Easterbrook, on comparing 'present' temperatures to those of the past 10,000 years or so.  The article is severely flawed, as has been discussed at Hot Topic and In it For the Gold.  Since that set of flaws has already been discussed at some length, I'll look to different issues with it.  (I'll add that you can check out a couple comments I made over at Hot Topic.)

The most fundamental issue, I think, is one I've posted about previously -- But is it science?.  There's a strongly related side trip to cherry picking.  Good science doesn't engage in cherry picking, so that becomes related to questions about whether we're reading a science article or something aimed at politics or other.

That fundamental issue shows up with the title: 2010 -- where does it fit in the warmest year list?  That isn't really even a question for or of science.

17 January 2011

Back and becoming active

I'm now back to checking out the blog -- at least comments people have submitted.  So, please take a look at:
Stephen L. at Verifying Forecasts 1
William at Verifying Forecasts 2 (two comments)
Horatio Algernon on Kids are Scientists
Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on Kids are Scientists (giving us a link to a 10 year old who discovered a supernova!)
jyyh on Evolving Thoughts

I'll be posting original material myself shortly.  William's discussion is prompting a separate post or two.  There is an interesting to me point involved, which is helpful for many things in pursuing science regardless of topic.  Namely: What is your object of study?  How do you know?

Hope everybody had a good winter solstice (December 21), holiday season, new year, and perihelion (January 3).  We're now moving away from the sun and those of us in the northern hemisphere are seeing more light.  (Itself a point important to long term -- tens of thousands of years -- climate.)

My wrist has been recovering pretty well, as these things go.  Unfortunate, that does not mean complete recovery 2 months after surgery.  But the physical therapy is going ok (as these things go) and I can now type fairly normally.